a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The City of Devi (2013)
Manil Suri
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

Manil Suri, the author of this erotic, dystopian, Indian adventure, is a professional mathematician. And so, it is not surprising that there is some mathematics in it. However, there really is not much and so that will probably not be the deciding factor in whether you love or hate this book, which seem to be the two most common reactions readers have to it.

Most of the mathematical content occurs towards the beginning as the protagonist's character is being set up. She majored in statistics as an undergraduate:

(quoted from The City of Devi)

...all those exotic-sounding curves, from Gaussian to gamma to chi, I sheepishly confessed, drew me in.

Because of her choice of major and her success in school, she was pigeonholed into the role of the anti-social nerd:

(quoted from The City of Devi)

By the time I finished my bachelor's in statistics, I had experienced the first inklings of how lonely a future might be lying in wait. "Numbers are her friends," everyone kept repeating, as if I shrank from the prospect of two-legged company.

However, the truth of the situation did not quite fit that stereotype. Her business internship after earning a graduate degree in statistics turned out to be a disaster, she continued to dream of romance and she did not share her colleagues' love of statistics:

(quoted from The City of Devi)

But I kept yearning for something more -- I could not be sustained just by my love of the discipline. I envied the most driven of my classmates, the ones whose eyes lit up with compulsive interest at the very mention of Bayesian theory, who launched into animated lunchtime discussions of unbiased estimators and Markov chains. Why wasn't I as possessed as they were? Why didn't I share their obsessive desire to blaze a fiery career path across the subject's firmament? Why did I keep mooning over such mundane distractions as falling in love or getting married?

Soon, she finds romance in the form of a physicist that a friend sets her up with. There is even a bit of statistics there, which she uses to analyze their sexual encounters, but mathematics becomes less important as the main plot develops.

The city of Mumbai, where they live, faces nuclear disaster and its society collapses into lawlessness. With the aid of a gay man named Jaz, she searches the city for her lover and witnesses both human horror and the appearance of Hindu gods.

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Works Similar to The City of Devi
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
  2. River of Gods by Ian McDonald
  3. Infinities by Vandana Singh
  4. Orpheus Lost: A Novel by Janette Turner Hospital
  5. A Universe of Sufficient Size by Miriam Sved
  6. Miss Havilland by Gay Daly
  7. The Tolman Trick by Manil Suri
  8. Divide Me By Zero by Lara Vapnyar
  9. 36 Arguments for the Existence of God by Rebecca Goldstein
  10. Book of Knut: a novel by Knut Knudson by Halvor Aakhus
Ratings for The City of Devi:
RatingsHave you seen/read this work of mathematical fiction? Then click here to enter your own votes on its mathematical content and literary quality or send me comments to post on this Webpage.
Mathematical Content:
2/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
4/5 (1 votes)

MotifWar, Female Mathematicians, Romance, Religion,

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Exciting News: The 1,600th entry was recently added to this database of mathematical fiction! Also, for those of you interested in non-fictional math books let me (shamelessly) plug the recent release of the second edition of my soliton theory textbook.

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)